OMEscape Canada – Joker’s Asylum [Review]

“Life’s a bowl of cherries and this is the pits.” – The Joker, Batman: The Killing Joke

Location: Markham, Ontario

Date played: April 28, 2016

Team size: 5-10; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $20 CAD per ticket

Image of a psychotic clown. It isn't Batman's Joker, but he looks very similar. Under his face read, "Joker's Asylum."
Why so serious?

Story & setting

Joker’s Asylum desperately wants to be a Batman story:

“The Joker was once the pride of his circus, but after troubles started, he left and locked himself away in a mysterious asylum created by him and his doctor. It became his paradise, slowly magnifying his insanity. One day, The Joker decided to leave the asylum to plan his revenge. Before his doctor could leave a diary with the Joker’s secrets, he vanished. Now you are tasked with unraveling the mystery before The Joker finds you.”

Our team began split between two rooms: the “control room” and the “game room.”

The control room was basically a closet that contained a lot of information. The game room was a large space with locks and puzzles. The group in the control room had to verbally guide those of us in the game room to complete the tasks. Eventually we all reunited.

It remained a mystery how we all ended up split between these spaces while investigating The Joker.

The setting had a dark, creepy, vaguely carnival feel to it.


Communication and observation were the twin keys to this escape room.

All escape rooms require communication; Joker’s Asylum required more than most.

All escape rooms require observation; Joker’s Asylum severely punished small oversights.

Nothing in the game was particularly challenging if you found all of the pieces and communicated them… but finding all of the pieces and communicating them was a big challenge.


Structurally, Joker’s Asylum was a truly different experience. It was a unique challenge to have two players effectively locked away with little to do other than attempt to puppet-master the game, while the rest of the team played at being semi-autonomous puppets.

We appreciated that this experimentation offered a variation on escape rooms.


Those players locked away in the control room had few puzzles to solve and mostly had to communicate what they could see in their space. Lisa was in the control room; for the first time since we’ve started writing reviews, she felt like she could not accurately describe the experience because her view into the game was so limited. If you’re volunteering for the control room, you’re volunteering for an incredibly limited experience.

The game room was frustrating because there were so many unknowns. If we hit a wall, it was painfully difficult for us to determine whether we were missing a detail or whether our teammates in the control room had failed to communicate something to us.

Additionally, the final puzzle offered far too little feedback. Without hints, there was no way to know if we were even on the right track.

Should I play OMEscape’s Joker’s Asylum?

The Joker forgot to bring the fun.

The setup was interesting and the setting had ambiance, but it didn’t come together in a satisfying way.

Joker’s Asylum required too much cooperation, which is an unusual statement about an escape room. The team locked away in the control room had too little to do and too much to communicate. The team in the game room had too much to do and too few things to solve.

I appreciate OMEscape’s experiment in Joker’s Asylum, but not every experiment works.

If you’re an experienced player looking to explore an unusual escape room that offers a different set of challenges than most, give this a go. Everyone else should consider exploring some of the other options that OMEscape has to offer.

Book your hour with OMEscape’s Joker’s Asylum, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape Games Canada – The Unknown [Review]

Shit got dark.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: May 1, 2016

Team size: they recommend 5-8 and require at least 4; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

“You may know nothing about this mission. You either do it or have it remain a mystery. WARNING: EXTREME CONTENT, 18+ ONLY Not recommended for those with heart conditions.”

Escape Games Canada makes a big deal about keeping this game a secret. Even after watching the introduction video, we didn’t really know what was about to happen.

The Unknown game logo

We won’t give you the scenario, but there was a story and an beautifully intricately designed, immersive set to convey the story. From the start, the story and set were cleverly intertwined.

There are only two ways to read a mysterious “18+ only” interactive experience… and this was not a sexually themed game. So, at this risk of pissing off the good people at Escape Games Canada, I have to explain that this is a horror game (more on that later).


The puzzles were not the star of this room escape. We had to solve them, but the game was about the immersive experience.

Unlike most escape rooms, it wasn’t the kind of game where you could be truly good at it. There were mechanisms in the experience to slow down or speed up the team’s ability to solve the puzzles, to force us to make the most out of the experience.


The Unknown was dramatic, immersive, and captivating.

Escape Games Canada used technology brilliantly and paid attention to almost every detail.

This experience expanded the range of the industry. It was still an escape room, but it was miles from what we’ve come to expect from a puzzle-driven live action game.


While I respect the lure of the unknown, Escape Games Canada doesn’t explain enough about this game up front to ensure that the right players choose to play it.

The Unknown was polarizing. Many will love it. I did not.

This game was not only an immersive experience and an escape room, it was also like being in a psych experiment. This should be made clear before the game. Escape Games Canada has no way of knowing what messed up experiences their customers have had and should allow them to make a more informed decision about playing this game.

Should I play Escape Games Canada’s The Unknown?

Bluntly, I hated The Unknown, but I appreciated it for what it was (after I left). David would have liked it if I hadn’t been in there, but he knew that I was miserable (even if I tried to hide that fact).

If you like the idea of an immersive horror experience with some puzzles, all designed to completely screw with your psyche, this is your game. It will be incredible.

If you don’t want to experience a horror game, stay away. Really.

Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s The Unknown, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

OMEscape Canada – Mysterious Study [Review]

Even after winning, the study remained a mystery.

Location: Markham, Ontario

Date played: April 30, 2016

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $20 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

We were escaping the office of some sort of researcher. In order to get out, we had to circumvent his security features. If there were any additional nuances to this story, we weren’t able to follow them.

As an office, this set had a pretty typical room feel.

Mysterious study logo - an intricately patterned pentagram.


The various puzzles in Mysterious Study relied on different types of logic and relied heavily scavenging. While some puzzles were harder than others, over all, this game was pretty balanced.

There was one task that required more substantial physical involvement from at least a few members of the team.


The best moments of Mysterious Study were driven by technological interactions. One was particularly well executed and surprising.


This room escape didn’t tell us a story. There were characters and they featured in some of the puzzles, but in the end, it was more a collection of puzzles than an immersive escape room experience.

A lot of the puzzles felt dramatically out of place in the difficult-to-follow narrative.

We encountered a bug in the final puzzle, requiring our gamemaster to enter the room to fix it.

Should I play OMEscape Canada’s Mysterious Study?

Mysterious Study was a standard escape room: It had a solid variety of puzzles, light story, and a few cool moments. It was not outstanding, but it was a fun game.

Ultimately Mysterious Study felt unfinished. There were fun interactions, and the setup was solid, but it didn’t build into anything more than a puzzle room.

It would be an enjoyable room escape for newer players, but it likely won’t offer the excitement that more experienced players seek.

Book your hour with OMEscape Canada’s Mysterious Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape From The 6 – Escape the Wild West [Review]

Yeehaw! Let’s blow this joint.

Location: Oakville, Ontario

Date played: April 27, 2016

Team size: 2-6; but they recommend 3-4 and we agree

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

We were outlaws jailed by the sheriff awaiting our transfer to prison. We needed to break out of our cell, find the evidence of our crimes, and escape with it.

This was an immersive set, solidly constructed as the sheriff’s office holding cell.

Early on, the game made us characters in our own escape, complete with side quest.

The custom construction was brilliantly engineered.

Post game victory photo wearing props from the two games we played.
It’s a called a satchel… not a purse.


Escape the Wild West included a variety of logic puzzles as well as dexterity puzzles that took full advantage of the set.

These physically interactive dexterity puzzles required more patience than room escape puzzles usually demand.


The set for Escape the Wild West was a delightfully fun playground. It was beautifully designed. Many of the puzzles interacted with it in a thematically appropriate way that gave us a sense of pride in engineering our own escape.

Each player had a side quest to find their own evidence. This personalized the game and added a simple, yet fun dynamic that elevated the experience.

Escape the Wild West built to an explosive conclusion.


One of the more traditional escape room puzzles set itself up for overthinking because it had so many possible inputs. That puzzle notwithstanding, the logic puzzles weren’t particularly challenging for experienced players.

The more challenging dexterity puzzles didn’t give feedback and we couldn’t be sure we were on the right track until everything worked (or we called for a hint to confirm we were on the right track). This type of interaction could cause bottlenecking, especially for larger teams.

Should I play Escape From The 6’s Escape the Wild West?

Escape the Wild West relied heavily on physical locks – key and combination – along with set piece interaction. It was low tech in a thematically appropriate way. It worked.

More so than in most escape games, Escape from the Wild West offered players the opportunity to construct their own escape from their environment. This can be both frustrating and rewarding.

The puzzles within Escape the Wild West were hit or miss; this game was more about the experience than it was about the puzzles. As long as you aren’t looking for magical technology or extreme mental challenge, this is an incredibly fun game to play. It’s a great place for new players to start, and a fun playground for experienced players.

Book your hour with Escape From The 6’s Escape the Wild West, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

OMEscape Canada – The Kingdom of Cats [Review]

A kung-fu movie with cats and puzzles.

Location: Markham, Ontario

Date played: April 28, 2016

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $20 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

We were humans attempting to avoid imprisonment in The Kingdom of Cats. To make our escape we had to battle the various members of the royal family by solving their puzzles. The story didn’t come through very strongly.

The setting, however, was both regal, and, well, cat-like. It was adorable and fun to climb through this feline kingdom, even if the story surrounding it didn’t make a ton of sense.

The Kingdom of Cats was bright and welcoming. It was not scary.


The best puzzles required cat-like interactions. Meow this was cute and fun.

OMEscape Canada incorporated some fun technologically driven interactions as well.

The puzzles drew on a variety of skills. They weren’t particularly difficult, but they were enjoyable.


This game was simply charming. The whole experience was weird, quirky and adorable. It was different than your run-of-the-mill escape room.

An adorable kitten rolled in paper, only its face is visible.


As with the other games at OMEscape Canada, we entered wearing blindfolds. However, there was no reveal in the first moments that warranted the hygiene hazard of the blindfold.

There were many generic puzzles that weren’t the cat’s meow.

Should I play OMEscape’s The Kingdom of Cats?

At its best, The Kingdom of Cats had wonderful cat-inspired interactions and puzzles set in quirky surroundings. At its worst, it slipped into generic escape room tropes and puzzles that could have been in any room. I truly wish that OMEscape fully committed to the bonkers theme and built absolutely every interaction around cats. It felt like they ran out of ideas before the room was finished.

If you are looking for a challenging escape room, this won’t be your game, but it was immeasurably family-friendly.

This game was not handicapped accessible. If you can’t move about an interactive set, this one isn’t for you.

If you can suspend your disbelief and are happy to embrace a different game environment, give this one a try. Enjoy it for the cute, feline-inspired set and the ingenuity behind that experience.

Book your hour with OMEscape’s The Kingdom of Cats, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape From The 6 – Firefighter Rescue [Review]

Where the doors are your greatest nemesis.

Location: Oakville, Ontario

Date played: April 27, 2016

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 28 CAD per ticket

2016 Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

In Firefighter Rescue, we spent an hour as firefighters. In the middle of a mundane day at the station, we were dispatched to a call. And just like that, we landed in a search and rescue mission.

Firefighter Rescue took place in multiple settings, all custom designed and expertly constructed. The fire station was fun, but the “burning” building was practically a playground. We climbed through it and even manipulated it to complete our mission.

The rescue story was lighthearted and a little hokey. Yet, that didn’t dissuade us from the mission. In fact, it made the mission that much more approachable and fun.

Both the story and the setting were interactive and immersive without becoming serious.

An illustrated image of two fire fighers hosing down flames. Red text reads,
We didn’t get to discharge a hose or a fire extinguisher.


The early puzzles trained us for the dispatch call. They weren’t particularly challenging, but they relied on the set and served a greater purpose.

The later part of this escape room was scavenging heavy, but not in the typical sense. Instead of searching for bits and pieces of hidden puzzles, which can become annoying, we searched in order to rescue. This scavenging had purpose. It also culminated such that we knew when we’d completed the search.


Escape From The 6 used simple practical effects brilliantly to enhance the drama of our firefighter dispatch.

This room escape did not rely on technologically driven interactions. The set and its puzzles were hands-on, which fit the theme and story.

Escape From The 6 added technological elements for atmospheric enhancements.

Firefighter Rescue incorporated a fun call back: information from the fire station became crucial later in the game. This was a clever, thematically appropriate design detail. Players who don’t pay attention will land in an amusingly difficult situation.


Neither the fire station training nor the rescue mission were particularly challenging.

There was one room that felt a bit grimy; piles of clothes in escape rooms are generally gross.

Should I play Escape From The 6’s Firefighter Rescue?

Firefighter Rescue was beautifully designed and constructed. It provided a fully immersive set that enabled more physical interaction than most escape games. Yet, it also wove multiple stories into a coherent plot. This gave us a rare additional level of satisfaction in mission completion.

Furthermore, it was clear that the game designer had a deep knowledge and love of this theme.

This escape room was a rescue mission. It wasn’t scary, but it could prove intimidating to children. It would be an approachable game for all players, with the notable exception that firefighting requires physical mobility.

Book your hour with Escape From The 6’s Firefighter Rescue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Image via Escape From The 6

Escape Games Canada – Crossroads [Review]

A dark story, magnificently staged, with some serious consequences.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: May 1, 2016

Team size: they recommend 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

2016 Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

We were a team of detectives tracking a serial killer before he reached his next victim.

The setting was beautifully foreboding, and deliberately crafted. It was well designed, solid, and polished. The atmosphere expertly sidestepped that raw vibe of many murder-themed escape rooms that is off-putting to some players, while still maintaining a creepy feel.

A close up of intricaately worn metal.
A teaser image from the set. Everything was this detailed.

Additionally, Crossroads included a crossroads decision game mechanism that elevated the drama of the story.


The puzzles unfolded linearly. At any given point in time, there wasn’t enough to keep a full and experienced team occupied simultaneously.

That said, Crossroads relied heavily on indexing puzzles. Throughout the game, these varied in complexity. Newer players will find additional minds beneficial for holding and sorting this type of information.


As implied by the name Crossroads, we had to make a choice. Our team’s choice had consequences for both the story arc and the difficulty of the puzzles. This feature set the game apart from the standard room escape where are rarely consequences for player decisions.

Escape Games Canada designed some pretty cool tech to power this game.


The puzzles in Crossroads weren’t particularly mind-bending. The game was far more about the experience. This could be a feature or a bug depending upon your perspective.

Early in the game, a combination lock failed.* We spent a lot of time unable to solve anything else because our critical puzzle jammed. We called for a hint to confirm that the lock was dead. The time was credited, but our game master should have been able to figure out what was happening before we did.

*Escape Games Canada let David punish the offending lock with bolt cutters (and proper safety gear). This put a largely positive spin on a disappointment.

Should I play Escape Games Canada’s Crossroads?

Escape Games Canada targets an adult audience. Crossroads’ setting and story was intense and dramatic. The choice further complicated the disturbing plot.

Because of the style of puzzle design, newer players may prefer to play this game with a larger team. Because of the linear flow, this will be a smaller team game for more experienced players.

Bring the right number of players with the right sentiments and you’ll have a great time.

Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s Crossroads, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Casa Loma – Escape from the Tower [Review]

A four-story escape room in the tower of an actual castle.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: April 30, 2016

Team size: 12; we recommend 8-10

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 36.00 CAD + HST per Ticket or 42.00 CAD + HST per Prime Time Ticket

Setting & story

Casa Loma is a historical Toronto landmark. This escape game was built into both the physical building and its history.

Escape from the Tower took place in the castle’s tower, up a few flights of stairs from the building’s entrance. The tower itself was a four-level set, ascended by spiral staircase as the game progressed.

This setting was unique and incredible; you can’t build a set like this.

Image of the Casa Loma castle in downtown Toronto. It's a beautiful gray stone castle with a magestic tower.
Seriously… it’s a real castle.

We were characters working for the Allied forces during World War II. Our team needed to find the coordinates of enemy U-boats, transmit these coordinates to allied forces, and escape before the tower was bombed.

The story was derived from the history of Casa Loma and designed around the existing building. Actors facilitated the game and enhanced the immersive experience. We were the heroes in our hour-long story.


Escape from the Tower unfolded in stages. On each floor, we completed multiple puzzles that collectively unlocked the next floor.

While Casa Loma packed a variety of puzzles into this game, each set of simultaneous puzzles required similar skills. This forced all players to tackle different types of thinking instead of gravitating toward their own strengths.

That said, the puzzles were both fair and challenging.

Early in the escape room, the story unfolded through the puzzles. As the game progressed, the relationship between story and puzzles became more abstract.


This room escape used its space magnificently.

It also incorporated local history into a captivating and dramatic story.

Escape from the Tower came to life because we were the characters in a thrilling adventure that had to take place in this tower. And the tower was awesome.


Half of our team showed up drunk. When asked to create a team name, David suggested “Tequila,” because our teammates stumbled into the lobby bragging about how much they had imbibed. They, of course, loved the name.

Our hammered teammates severely diminished our experience.

In Casa Loma’s games, players book individual tickets. If you want to play with your friends, you need to book all 12 tickets in the time slot, and book them far in advance. We don’t always have this luxury when we travel. Unfortunately, our schedule worked out such that we had two tickets for a Saturday evening with whomever else booked the same time slot.

With regard to drunk players, the Casa Loma website says “… you may be grouped with other players, so it’s important that you’re cooperative. Please note if you arrive intoxicated, our staff has the right of refusal, and no refunds will be given.”

The staff has the right to refuse drunk players, but they don’t do it.

Saturday tickets cost $42 each.

Is this escape room worth the steep price tag? Not if your teammates show up drunk.

Should I play Casa Loma’s Escape from the Tower?

Escape from the Tower is a cohesive game, brilliantly staged, and seeped in local history. Toronto is a saturated escape room market. This game stands apart as a must play.

Book out the whole room well in advance, and bring people you trust. We wish we had the opportunity to give Escape from the Tower a play-through with sober people.

Note that due to the nature of castle, this game is not handicapped accessible. Also, players will climb a few flights of stairs and should wear appropriate shoes.

Book your daytime ticket to Casa Loma’s Escape from the Tower, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Image via Wikipedia